A COUNCILLOR says she is ‘appalled’ that plans for a massive new housing development are proceeding as normal - despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Coun Hannah Kitching, who represents the Penistone West ward, says current restrictions make it impossible for public consultation to take place as they usually would relating to plans for nearly 460 new homes on land at Wellhouse Lane, Penistone.

After being announced in January, the formal planning application was submitted earlier this month and has already attracted a huge amount of opposition from within the community.

“I am pretty unimpressed with the way the government is pushing for the planning process to continue during the crisis,” she said. “It is hard to do proper consultations in these circumstances.

“I would normally be out delivering leaflets and knocking on doors to give people full details of what is involved and what they should be submitting if they want to object or raise issues.

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“Schools are closed, parish council meetings have been cancelled but the planning department is still expected to work as normal. It is appalling.

“To be fair to Barnsley Council, they have better things to do right now but there is a difference in allowing small, delegated decisions to continue but not schemes such as this which are enormous.

“It is disgraceful that this is happening and it only benefits the developer. I am not happy at all.

“It is hard for me and for the community to get out there and really engage with people.”

Coun Kitching said the main recourse is to engage via social media but she accepts that this excludes many people.

“Anyone with issues about this development can contact me,” she said.

“Wellhouse Lane is designated in Barnsley’s local plan for housing so that ship has sailed. But I don’t want to see as many as 460 homes on that site and it’s important the development conforms to planning guidelines.

“We need details on areas such as highways access and the mix of properties. We can still influence aspects such as this.

“I encourage people to call me and I can help guide them as to how best to lay out their concerns.”

The deadline for submissions is May 9, which conforms to the statutory planning framework.

“We can’t have a public meeting or anything,” said Coun Kitching. “Normally I would be making sure people know what is going on. It is very frustrating.

“Our gripe is with the government for pushing for the planning process to go on as though nothing is happening.

“There could have been some leeway. It is a developer’s world right now but it should not be at residents’ detriment as it’s out of their hands.”